GB News presenter pulled off air for taking the knee

Guto Harri took the knee live on air on Tuesday in support of Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford. (Screenshot/GB News)
Guto Harri took the knee live on air on Tuesday in support of Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford. (Screenshot/GB News)
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Updated 16 July 2021
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GB News presenter pulled off air for taking the knee

Guto Harri took the knee live on air on Tuesday in support of Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford. (Screenshot/GB News)
  • Harri, a former BBC correspondent and former advisor to Boris Johnson, was discussing racial abuse aimed at black English footballers

LONDON: The recently launched UK-based news channel GB News announced on Friday that one of its ‘contributing presenters,’ Guto Harri, will not appear on air for the remainder of the summer having breached channel standards by symbolically taking the knee in support of England footballers.

Harri, a former BBC correspondent and former advisor to Boris Johnson, was discussing racial abuse directed at black players after England’s defeat by Italy in a penalty shootout in the Euro 2020 final.

Harri subsequently took the knee live on air on Tuesday in support of Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, who all missed penalties in the shootout.

Harri had marveled at “deep-rooted and hideously ugly racism in some English football fans” and proceeded to tweet that GB News was “above all about free speech” and that he didn’t believe the England football team was “endorsing the narrow divisive aims of BLM.”

On Thursday, the channel responded by tweeting: “GB News stands four square against racism in all its forms. We do not have a company line on taking the knee.”

However, GB News later tweeted that it was “unacceptable” for any presenter to take the knee, and that Harri had breached the channel’s standards. 

“On Tuesday a contributing presenter took the knee live on air and this was an unacceptable breach of our standards” the tweet read.

Harri’s actions on Tuesday had immediately sparked a backlash and boycott threat from some of the right-leaning channel’s viewers.

That boycott caused some shows to attract zero viewers, and the channel’s management subsequently decided to distance itself from Harri. 

In what many have interpreted as a reaction to that decision, the channel’s senior executive and director of programming, ​​John McAndrew, resigned. 

McAndrew, who previously worked at Sky News and Euronews, had also reportedly been under pressure to shift GB News’ focus from free debate towards ‘culture war’ topics.